Here's How Industries Are Marrying All of Us to Technology Fintech startups are trying to 'put a ring on it' by urging banks to keep up with digital makeovers and strategic partnerships.

By Ross Mason

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"You're cheating on me with your smartphone." Twenty years ago, this phrase wouldn't have made sense. Today, it's a common line in modern-day relationships. Most of us are spending more time on our smart devices than actually engaging in conversations with our loved ones. Yet, there's no denying the value technology brings to our lives.

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I'm referring here to smart, connected technology that among other things can boost our health, manage our urgent banking requests and connect our vehicles to our homes. By committing to the right balance, we'll continue to see technology improve our lives.

Below I've outlined three industries that are marrying individuals to smart, connected technology and succeeding. Cue the wedding bells.

Healthcare

Healthcare is swiftly becoming patient-centric as its center of gravity shifts from the hospital to the home-medical experience. Wearable devices such as Apple Watch, Android Wear and Fitbit are getting patients motivated and involved in their healthcare decisions on a daily basis. In turn, this puts pressure on hospitals to open up channels through API (application program interface) technology and allow patient data from personal tracking devices to be shared with doctors in real time.

For instance, AirStrip made waves on the Apple stage in September, when the company showcased the incredible capabilities of its connected system. AirStrip with Apple Watch allows physicians to view real-time lab results and vital readings, such as heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation, from any location. This could include a patient traveling to the hospital in an ambulance or an expectant mother in the comfort of her home routinely testing her and her baby's heart rate.

Or take Telcare, which introduced the industry's first FDA-approved cellular blood glucose meter that sends live readings to smart devices belonging to predesignated people, such as physicians or parents. Technologies like AirStrip and Telcare are redefining how physicians and patients collaborate in real time, paving the way for better overall care and hooking consumers on the security and comfort they provide.

Financial services

When PayPal, Venmo, Stripe, Google and Apple flirted with the idea of using smart devices to ease payments and real-time access to banking information, that move spurred excitement among consumers and terror among large financial institutions, as they were being asked to change.

To meet these rapidly inflating demands from consumers, financial institutions quickly recognized the need to adapt to this new trend by breaking down their monolithic systems into reusable APIs that can be combined to create new digital services. For early movers, this has fueled a broader use of banking apps on smart devices, where consumers can quickly cash checks with a quick click of the camera, or complete personal payments, as well as engage in more traditional services, like wire transfers.

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Large financial institutions, such as Wells Fargo and American Express, also saw the importance in partnering with impactful online payment startups such as Stripe, whose hefty goal is to raise the GDP of the Internet. Venmo and other peer-to-peer payment apps also gained in popularity, removing the hassle for consumers around splitting bills after meals, paying rent and sharing cab rides, among an array of other activities.

What's clear is that the financial services industry is being transformed by fintech startups looking to simplify payment processes for consumers and businesses alike. And consumers are relying on their smart devices more than ever to easily manage their financial lives.

Fintech startups are trying to put a ring on it, increasing the urgency for banks to keep up through transformative digital makeovers and strategic partnerships. MasterCard's recently announced Start Path program is a step in the same direction: aligning the financial services corporation with fintech game-changers.

Automotive

With auto manufacturers expanding app integration into vehicles, connected cars are quickly becoming an extension of an individual's home and personal life. Now, auto manufacturers such as Tesla are depending significantly on the developer ecosystem to provide rich experiences for individuals and their music, social and home apps.

In the next few years, car companies will provide 90 percent connectivity through APIs, fostering a closer relationship between individuals and their cars. Cars will no longer serve just as vehicles that move us from point A to point B; in addition, they'll act as collaborator, entertainer and confidant.

In the next few years, in fact, connected cars will become our very own chauffeurs, given that Tesla, Google, Apple and Uber are currently delving into the realm of driverless cars. Tesla's recent launch of autopilot software in its Model S cars is an early start. What's clear is that the movers and shakers in the automotive industry are turning cars into connected platforms to draw consumers closer.

With the close last month of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a flurry of new smart devices were brought online to "disrupt industries," "change the world" and perhaps even destroy a few relationships.

But, it won't be the devices themselves that will make waves. It will be the clever use of those devices to generate value. This year, 2016, will be about identifying the value niches within industries and executing on consumer demands. Smart technology will continue to find its way into our lives and connect what we once thought impossible.

In 2016, too, I look forward to balancing my marriage by using technology -- by investing less time in managing connected devices and getting more value out of them. And, maybe spending more time talking to my wife than Siri.

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Ross Mason

Founder and vice president of product strategy at MuleSoft

Ross Mason founded MuleSoft in 2006 on the idea that connecting applications should be easy, building on the open source Mule project he created three years earlier. He is responsible for MuleSoft's product strategy, open source leadership, engineering alignment and direct engagement with customers. Prior to MuleSoft, Ross was CEO of SymphonySoft Limited, and lead architect for RaboBank. He has also worked with NatWest Bank, Credit Suisse and UBS. Ross holds a BS (Hons) in Computer Science from Bristol, UK."

 

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